How can retailers balance employee perks and the living wage?

Next year brings the introduction of Chancellor George Osborne’s national living wage. With only months to go until the payment legislation is launched, some retail bosses are considering cutting employee benefits in order to fund higher wages.

But could this cause greater long-term damage?

Joanne Abate, assistant vice-president of global health management at employee benefits provider Unum, says: “Ultimately, when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent, relying on salary alone is not enough, especially now all retailers will have to pay the living wage.

“In today’s climate, company perks – from staff discounts to financial benefits – can often make the difference between recruiting and retaining the best people or losing out to competitors.”

How can retailers continue to offer attractive employee benefits while also finding the money to fund higher salaries?

“Not all benefits have to break the bank; some relatively low-cost benefits can make a big difference to morale and engagement,” says Abate.

The benefits offered must be of genuine value to staff. In order to ensure this, it is essential to examine the demographics of your workforce.

“Savvy employers increasingly value the long-term financial security offered by benefits like medical insurance or income protection, which pays a regular monthly income to staff if they are off sick for more than six months,” says Abate.